Karnak is written by Warren Ellis, with art by Gerardo Zaffino. The art has a grungy, unfinished look to it, paired well with fairly muted colors (Dan Brown). This artistic approach fit nicely with the subject matter of the issue.
The comic book follows Magister Karnak, who describes himself as a “poor hermit philosopher.” He is the teacher and high priest among a contingent of Inhuman followers at the Tower of Wisdom.
The overall feel of the book is interesting, deviating from usual superhero standards. Karnak isn’t helping S.H.E.I.L.D. because it’s the right thing to do, or because lives are at stake. And he certainly isn’t doing it for free. He’s helping them for money and an additional follower for his group of Inhumans. Personal gain is his objective, not the arcane righteousness or nobility that other heroes tend to follow.
However, his assertions of the insignificance and imperfections of humans and objects are unexplained. Their flaws and general lack of importance are made obvious to him by his abilities—that’s simply his power. But he doesn’t explain why the bullet is flawed by being fired, or the human flawed by being born. Karnak states these as facts, but the reader is left in the dark. A window into his thought process would also allow his character to become more three dimensional. Further explanations of how he views life’s imperfections would enhance the story, giving the reader further insight as to why Karnak’s outlook is so bleakly pessimistic and how his power works.
Overall, it was a good book. I particularly liked the exchange between Karnak, Coulson, and Simmons when Karnak first arrives at Svalbard.